Bengaluru: In a major cause of worry for the ruling BJP in Karnataka, as many as seven of its MLAs ‘deliberately’ rendered their votes invalid during the recent Legislative Council poll which was won by deputy chief minister Laxman Savadi.
In the election held on February 17, Savadi bagged 113 out of the 120 votes polled while the remaining seven were invalid. The BJP state leadership suspects that party old-timers intentionally made their votes invalid to put both the party and chief minister B S Yediyurappa in an embarrassing position.
Senior BJP MLAs Umesh Katti and Murugesh Nirani were not inducted into the cabinet although they had lobbied hard. Yediyurappa did not get the nod of the central leadership to induct them into the cabinet. The disgruntled MLAs later expressed their displeasure against the party leadership for ignoring their seniority and loyalty.
Their anger was reflected in the Legislative Council polls where instead of writing serial number 1 in the ballot paper, seven MLAs registered a ‘right’ mark on the right side of the ballot paper, making sure their votes were considered invalid, said Assembly secretary Vishalakshi.
Sources in the state BJP told Deccan Chronicle that senior leaders are aware of the dissidence and will take a call on this issue in the next BJP core committee meeting.
Meanwhile, the disgruntled MLAs are maintaining a distance from the chief minister with party old-timers hardly attending the ongoing legislature session. The chief minister tried to placate one of the MLAs, Umesh Katti, promising him a cabinet berth in the next round of expansion. He also reportedly asserted that party insiders were opposing his entry into the cabinet.
A few MLAs have also started pressurizing the chief minister through powerful Lingayat pontiffs to take them into the cabinet.
Sources said the dissidence is expected to peak once Yediyurappa turns 77 on February 27. His opponents are likely to join hands and press for a change of leadership, reminding the central leadership about the 75 year age cap for party leaders to hold any position.